Getting Your Apartment Connected To The Internet

How To Connect Your Apartment To The Internet

It is one of the biggest frustrations we at Strata Plan hear from apartment owners.

We’re talking, of course, about connecting your apartment to the internet.

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Specifically, we’re talking about jumpering.

No, it isn’t something you wear, but rather the process of connecting the local telephone exchange to your building’s Main Distribution Frame (MDF) and then to your apartment or unit.

Confused?

Don’t worry. Most are if it’s the first time they have ever lived in an apartment.

The basics are simple.

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will only make your connection up to what they call the “Network Boundary Point”. If you live in an apartment, that means your MDF.

It is your responsibility to make the connection from the MDF to your apartment or unit. This process is called MDF Jumpering.

Strata Plan’s Five-Step Guide To Connecting Your Apartment To The Internet

We will get into the nitty gritty details later, but if you’re just after a quick guide to connecting your apartment to the internet, the below gives an idea of the quickest and most efficient route to connection.

  1. Arrange a connection with your preferred ISP. They will give you a date for connection, when a technician will attend and make the connection to the “Network Boundary Point”.
  2. Let your ISP know that the connection is for an apartment with an MDF. Ask if they are able to provide a MDF jumpering service on the day (they will charge extra for this) and provide permission for the connection to be made.
  3. Once you know this date, call Strata Plan or use our handy online form or contact your relevant Owners Corporation manager and arrange access to your building’s MDF/communications cupboard on the required date. The technician will need access to this to make the connection and they will not have their own key.
  4. If your ISP is unable to provide an MDF Jumpering service, or is charging you over $100 for the service, look for a local technician or electrician who can provide the same service. Again, this will cost you, but the sooner you organise this to happen, the easier the whole process becomes.
  5. Ensure you or a friend is at home to let the ISP’s technician into the building. If you’ve arranged access with Strata Plan or your Owners Corporation manager for access to the MDF cupboard, everything should be done in the one visit.

Still confused as to why MDF Jumpering is required or what it is?

In the detailed article below, Strata Plan will walk you through the basics of MDF Jumpering, how it’s done and what you need to do.

What is the MDF?

This might seem a ridiculous question if you’ve only ever lived in houses or self-contained units before.

In those cases, it’s as simple as making a connection from the exchange directly to the house and you’re ready to surf the web, stream media and play games to your heart’s content!

For apartment dwellers, it’s not always so simple.

Modern apartment buildings are built with centralised distribution frames, known as the Main Distribution Frame (MDF).

mdf-apartment-jumper

The MDF serves as what the telcos like to call the “network boundary point”. This is as far as your ISP will go when connecting your service to your property.

These frames consist of what is usually termed as the ‘A’ and the ‘B’ side.

The ‘A’ side is where all incoming phone and internet lines from the street connect to.

The ‘B’ side is where these connections are jumpered to so that they connect to your dwelling.

When you order a new connection, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will only connect you to the ‘A’ side of the MDF. You will need to organise a technician to jumper that connection from the ‘A’ side to the ‘B’ side.

 

What is MDF jumpering?

MDF jumpering is the process of making the connection from the ‘A’ side of the MDF to the ‘B’ side of the MDF.

When your ISP makes the connection to the ‘A’ side, they will tag your connection so that your technician can easily identify which connection from the street to the MDF is for your apartment.

From there, the technician will connect the line from the ‘A’ side to the ‘B’ side and up to your apartment.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s a relatively small cable and shouldn’t take an experienced technician or electrician too long to complete.

This handy graphic from TPG helps to explain.

MDF-apartments-tpg

This begs the question…

Why isn’t MDF jumpering completed at initial connection?

Every ISP has a different reason for why it doesn’t provide a jumpering service on the day of the initial connection by default.

In a public post on their technical support forum, TPG posted the following:

“On the day of the home phone scheduled connection, TPG will deliver the service to the network boundary point to your premises. This network boundary point is typically either:

  • The first telephone socket (inside a free standing premises. such as a house) or
  • The Main Distribution Frame (in a multiple dwelling unit for example an apartment).

For customers who live in a multi user dwelling who were asked to be home for the installation, it is likely that once the service is installed that another technician will be required to jumper your service. TPG is responsible to deliver the service to the first side of the MDF (the ‘A’ side).

Any wiring that is missing to connect to the other side of the MDF (the ‘B’ side) and into the building is the customer’s responsibility and requires a technician. TPG can arrange for a field services technician to do this for you for an additional charge. Without doing this, the service will not work.”

When asked why this was the case, TPG replied:

“Some customers won’t need MDF Jumpering especially those in Stand Alone Houses (not in the apartment) so it will be unfair if we add the $60.00 to the installation fee. Our customers also have the option if they like to hire their own technician to do the jumpering.”

Australia’s biggest telecommunications provider Telstra provides a similar line on their technical support websites, saying:

“Telstra maintains up to the network boundary, which in this case is the cable where it comes into the MDF. The MDF and the cabling between this point and the unit are owned and maintained by the body corporate.

When the move order is placed, this should result in a Telstra technician tagging the MDF if needed so that it can be connected to the correct unit.”

What are my options?

Long story short, there is no way of avoiding the need to jumper your connection from the ‘A’ side to the ‘B’ side of your building’s MDF.

Most ISPs will charge you for the service of jumpering it too.

TPG’s cost is around $60 while other charge up to $100.

If you’re after convenience, the simplest and quickest way to arrange for the jumpering is to advise your ISP that they will be connecting to an MDF and give your permission to be charged any extra fees to complete the jumpering at the same time as the initial connection to the MDF.

Alternatively, you can arrange your own technician or electrician to attend the site after the connection has been made from the street to the MDF to jumper the cable to your apartment.

If you shop around before the initial connection is made, you may be able to find a supplier who can do the job for a better price than what your ISP is providing.

What else do I need to think about?

Access.

If you’re making an internet connection, you need to be able to provide your ISP’s technician access.

First to the building and second to the building’s MDF.

The MDF is usually in a cupboard labelled “Communications”. Smaller buildings will have one MDF, while larger high-rise set-ups may have a central MDF and then several Intermediary Distribution Points (IDP). These are normally located on each floor.

The Owners Corporation is responsible for the maintenance, management and security of these frames, so if your Owners Corporation is managed by Strata Plan, these cupboards will usually be locked.

This is to prevent people from leaving them open or fiddling with connections.

As such, you need to arrange with Strata Plan or your relevant strata manager to ensure your MDF cupboards are left unlocked for the day of attendance and – if required – for a second day when the jumpering is done.

Strata Plan will liaise with your Owners Corporations caretaker or other relevant contractor to attend site and unlock all the relevant cupboards.

There is nothing more frustrating than waiting all day for the technician to arrive, only for the cupboards to be locked.

Think ahead and arrange access as early as possible to minimise the chance of disappointment.

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